Promising Approaches

Promising Approaches to Successful Transitions for Youth

Successful transition for young people with mental health and/or substance abuse problems depends on the service professionals involved in caring for the young person, whether in school or in the community. Because these youth often do not receive transition planning services, it is essential that youth service providers take action and identify the resources most likely to meet the needs of the individual youth.1 Transition planning should be targeted to the specific needs and situation of the youth with mental health concerns. What works for one young person may not be the best solution for another.

Planning may involve many groups and agencies, as well as consideration of available resources such as the following:

Learn more about transition age youth, youth employment opportunities, youth mental health, and other youth topics.

As in Tricia’s story, one connected service provider can make the difference in opening-up other resources and supports. Tricia’s experience also highlights the importance of self-advocacy and self-determination. Wherever possible, transition-age youth should be involved in the planning process, ensuring that the transition plan is tailored to their needs. This involvement can also help young people develop necessary self-advocacy skills as they move into adulthood.

A comprehensive transition plan for young people with mental health needs should include the following:

  • Flexible options for continuing education and/or remediating deficits and gaps
  • Coordinated planning and support from multiple agencies, educators, and family members
  • Career education and preparation for entering the workforce (mentorships, apprenticeships, job shadowing, etc.)
  • Opportunities for supported employment, where appropriate
  • Connection to peer role models, mentors, and peer networks with similar mental health or substance abuse needs in order to build positive relationships and support networks
  • Opportunities to develop self-advocacy skills, including identifying possible resources and accommodations for entry into the workforce or postsecondary education

1National Center for Children in Poverty, 2006; National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability/Youth, 2009